BWSI Course Listing

Program Course Overviews

The MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute will be offering the courses listed here.  As we adapt to requirements based on the COVID-19 pandemic, we will try to offer as many of these as possible.  BWSI will be a virtual program in 2021.


We are running introductory program for 9th and 10th grade students in a spring program starting March 6.  Information on that Saturday Spring program can be found at this link.

Assistive Technology

BWSI Assistive Technology will help students develop skill for product design, rapid prototyping, and product testing as they create technology solutions for people living with disabilities. We will tackle real problems faced by collaborating with people who have disabilities in your local community, and learn to work with the end users, stepping through the engineering design process together to come up with personalized, creative solutions.

Autonomous Cognitive Assistance (CogWorks)

Beaver Works Summer Institute will offer students an opportunity to learn about the cutting-edge in machine learning. Cog*Works consists of project-based modules for developing machine learning apps that leverage audio, visual, and linguistic data. Students will work with experts in these fields to learn foundational mathematical, programming, and data analysis skills, which will enable them to create their own algorithms and neural networks from scratch. Ultimately, they will design their own cognitive assistants.

Autonomous RACECAR

Beaver Works Summer Institute will offerteams of students, each with its own MIT-designed RACECAR (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann steeRing) robot, the opportunity to explore the broad spectrum of research in autonomy, learn to collaborate, and demonstrate fast, autonomous navigation in a Mini Grand Prix to Move... Explore... Learn...Race!

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Challenge (new!)

Learn basic hydrodynamics, vehicle control and image recognition. Build a custom underwater vehicle and program it to navigate an obstacle course autonomously.

Build a Cubesat

Beaver Works Summer Institute will offer students the opportunity to design, build, and test a prototype CubeSat.  Students will explore all the major subsystems of a satellite and get hands on experience with mechanical, electrical, and software engineering.  The class will use these new skills to demonstrate a real CubeSat science mission in partnership with scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Cyber Security in Software Intensive Systems (new!)

Beaver Works Summer Institute will help students learn and understand cyber security. Through projects and challenges will learn about network security and cryptography, learn how to use a fuzzer in finding and fixing software vulnerabilities, and how create a software service that can survive a disruption, and why social engineering and the usability of software are all parts of Cyber Security.

Embedded Security and Hardware Hacking

Beaver Works Summer Institute will cover several cybersecurity topics with a focus on threats that are especially concerning for embedded systems. These topics include embedded software security, JTAG and UART probing, side-channel analysis, and fault-injection. This background will help prepare students for the summer course, during which they will design and perform security assessments of multiple implementations of an embedded system. They will learn the basics of embedded security and hardware hacking by designing a secure system and performing security assessments of classmates’ designs to see who can find and fix the most security flaws.


Beaver Works Summer Institute will give students a chance to explore the exciting intersection of data science and medicine. Students will build a solid foundation in the fundamentals of probability and statistics, and learn the basics of coding and machine learning techniques through a series of online teaching modules.  During the summer, students will work in groups to gain hands-on experience applying advanced machine learning and data mining to solve real-world medical challenges. 

Quantum Software (new!)

Beaver Works Summer Institute will offer students a chance to learn about quantum computing and algorithms. Students will learn fundamentals of quantum mechanics that make qubits unique and important to solving hard computational problems and develop algorithms that make use of qubit properties like superposition and entanglement. Students will be able to use quantum computing simulators to test their ideas and algorithms and explore the incredible opportunities with this technology.

Remote Sensing for Disaster Response

Beaver Works Summer Institute Remote Sensing program will offer students the opportunity to explore the exciting intersection of data science and disaster response.  The program consists of two components: (1) online course from February to May 2021, open to all interested and committed students; and (2) a four-week virtual summer program. During the course, the students will learn to understand the basics of Python, Git, GIS, machine learning, and image processing through a series of online teaching modules. Students will explore real world datasets featuring disaster imagery from both satellites and aerial platforms. Students in this course will develop experience in an area of data science that is poised to play a critical role in understanding our world.

Serious Games and Artificial Intelligence

Combine modern methods in machine learning and game-like modeling to quantitatively analyze socially relevant technology and policy questions.  This year’s application will be tactical routing for self-driving ambulances.  We will build an analysis framework in Python to study the technical, moral, and strategic opportunities that new technologies present to that application.  There will also be an emphasis on learning the practical tools and skills for working on a professional software development team.

The below courses are tentative for 2021*

Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing

NOTE: as a virtual course, these challenges will not be using real drones, but testing and competitions will be in a simulation environment. We think that it will provide a learning experience as good with the real hardware and makes the virtual course possible.

Beaver Works Summer Institute will offer students the opportunity to explore some new areas of research and to design their own autonomous capabilities for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). The students will work in teams to develop algorithms for deployment to an advanced quadrotor, the Intel Aero Ready-To-Fly Drone. They will use the Robot Operating System (ROS), popular open-source libraries, and custom algorithms to program the quadrotors to compete in a racing event.

Unmanned Air System–Synthetic Aperture Radar

Beaver Works Summer Institute will introduce students to Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging as they build and fly a radar on a small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and use it to image scenes around campus. Students will work in small teams alongside their instructors to gain hands-on experience building, integrating, and processing data from a radar to generate SAR images. Teams will compete to create the UAS-SAR capable of producing the clearest images possible.